Cocoa Horizons Foundation scheme shows key supply chain sustainability gains

The Cocoa Horizons Foundation, an independent non-profit organisation established by Barry Callebaut to improve the lives of cocoa farmers, has released its latest annual performance update, reports Neill Barston.

Since its establishment five years ago, it has worked closely with key communities around the world, including Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Indonesia and Brazil, with Ecuador being added in the past year.

Its activities, which are externally verified, have been linked to driving Barry Callebaut’s Forever Chocolate Programme, the company’s scheme to help lift 500,000 farmers out of poverty by 2025.

The foundation’s goals have centred on three main pillars of ‘the prosperous farmer’ in supporting professionalisation through creating business plans and diversifying crops, “community” focusing on child labour prevention and empowering women. The third element revolves around committing to a forest and carbon positive supply chain.

Results from its 2019/2020 review found that its programmes had engaged with 106,199 farmers, 19% of whom were women, and there were 81, 892 children were assessed on child labour, with 110 farmer groups sourced from having child labour monitoring. A total of 5,121 children are in the process of being remediated or had been remediated from being involved with working.

Against its ‘prosperous farmer’ goals, the number of farmers delivering cocoa was up 31%, with 40% of farmers in its progammes living above the poverty line, with the Cocoa Horizons scheme linked to a total of 30,397 farmer business plans, and 15,000 productivity packages delivered.

On the environment, 76% of operations were demonstrated as free from deforestation, with 2,965,928 cocoa and non cocoa seedlings distributed.

As the foundation noted, the coronavirus pandemic has once again underlined the importance of a sustainable supply chain. Throughout the crisis, the protection of employees from implementers of the program and farmers were of key priority. The implementation of the program and sourcing of the volumes continued.

Thanks to the adoption of precautionary measures and the dedication and teamwork of Barry Callebaut employees, some activities to support farmers were pursued, limiting mainly the sensitisation events done in bigger groups. In addition, through the supply chain network the Cocoa Horizons Foundation supported the distribution of soap, water stations, masks, sanitisers and information on coronavirus.

In order to address a critical gap in helping lift farmers out of poverty, the Foundation continues to enable the scale up and supports the strengthening of innovative farm services offered to farmers, via the Farm Business Plans and more personalised coaching, to improve their old and unproductive cocoa farms with more productive and diversified ones.

The service offers cocoa and shade tree seedlings, inputs, and seeds for food crops, in order to improve cocoa productivity and diversify farmers’ income. While good progress was made in Ghana and Cameroon, the productivity ban in Côte d’Ivoire continued to limit further expansion of the program. In particular in Ghana some activities have been extended to cocoa farmers in general, with the objective to promote the program and to prepare for future expansion driven by customers’ demand.

Significantly, the foundation said it had continued scaling up child labor monitoring and remediation activities, while at the same time undertaking remediation activities for cases identified in the prior year. The Foundation is closely following and implementing the latest developments in the sustainable cocoa industry. In 2019/20 the Foundation continued to focus on getting full data from all the farmers in the program, including polygon mapping of farmers’ plantations across all Cocoa Horizons program

Cocoa Horizons activities are aligned with the targets of the Cocoa and Forests Initiative (CFI) in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, which aim to bring the cocoa industry to zero deforestation.

The Foundation is continuously focusing on strengthening the program and accelerating the impact of activities on the ground, therefore the methodology is currently under review, in order to integrate improved approaches in the different areas.

Notably, it confirmed that its goal is to implement higher standards of governance and transparency, as well as provide greater levels of assurance for stakeholders, while still maintaining the ambition of the Foundation to scale impact through an activities based approach. A full implementation of the revised methodology published in August 2018 has been executed in 2019/20.

“We are proud of having made great progress in the Cocoa Horizons program this past year. We reached approximately 111,000 farmers with different interventions in the areas of productivity, child protection and environment. Thanks to the support from all of our partners, we are now able to drive impact across six cocoa origins. While there is still a lot to be done to achieve our targets, we will continue tackling the issues, together, to improve cocoa farmers livelihoods.”   – Evelyn Nassar, Cocoa Horizons Director.

US scheme ambassador

Within the US, the company’s linked brand Cacao Barry confirmed that Francisco Migoya, will be the region’s lead chef for cocoa farming sustainability in support of the Cocoa Horizons Foundation.

He will be a champion for sustainable cocoa practices and work with Cacao Barry and the Cocoa Horizons Foundation to educate chefs and continue raising awareness on sustainability throughout the cocoa industry worldwide.

Chef Francisco Migoya, head chef at Modernist, realised his passion for the kitchen at the age of 16. He has spent his career dedicated to the world of sweets, and is recognised as one of the top pastry chefs in the country.

In 2016 he was exposed to the realities of unsustainable cocoa production, such as deforestation and child labour, while visiting cocoa plantations in Peru with Cacao Barry. Since then, he’s been committed to positively impacting cocoa growers. He fully supports the mission of the Cocoa Horizons Foundation and its goals to eradicate child labor, lift cocoa farmers out of poverty, eliminate deforestation, and become carbon positive by 2025.

Cacao Barry said that it is proud to have achieved its goal of sourcing 100% sustainable cocoa this year, and, with Chef Migoya’s commitment, will continue to create impact through the Cocoa Horizons Foundation.

“Being a Cacao Barry Ambassador not only means enthusiastically supporting the high-quality chocolates that I’ve used for years, but being part of something bigger through the Cocoa Horizons partnership, with an emphasis on promoting sustainable practices,” said Chef Francisco Migoya, USA Cacao Barry Ambassador. “It’s breathtaking how much progress the Cocoa Horizons Foundation has made, and even more so how much work still needs to be done. I’m honored to be a part of this organization and the initiative to create a 100% sustainable cocoa industry.”




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